Jets Fans United: Is Solomon Thomas the DT1 Starter or First Role D-Line?

September 7, 2022

Questions surfacing is Solomon Thomas a starter or rotational player on this 2022 Jets roster? Primarily a depth move, Solomon Thomas will likely be asked to play a part-time role in Saleh’s rotation-heavy defensive line. The Jets were looking to bolster their defensive line depth and Thomas does just that.

Reclamation Project for the Jets?

Solomon Thomas was seen as one of the best players in the 2017 NFL Draft. NFL Scouts praised his high athletic ceiling and physical traits with many believing that his ever-present motor and drive to improve would help him reach his potential. At the beginning of his NFL career he only flashed success never developed into that feared defensive lineman.

Jets Solomon Thomas 2017 49ers – courtesy USA Today

Some players take longer to adjust to the speed of the NFL while some never find that on field success and Solomon is one of those players. He showed potential as a rookie racking up three sacks while primarily playing on the outside. He was a better fit on the inside at defensive tackle eventually the 49ers did just that kicked him inside. There were moments he flashed but were too infrequent.

Along with on the field struggles, Solomon battled through adversity off the field, the tragic death of his sister in 2018 which took a toll on Solomon’s mental health in which he has since spoken about those challenges he face playing in the months and years following her passing.

His 49ers career came to an abrupt end when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 of 2020, coincidentally in a game against the Jets. That would be the last time he stepped on the field in a 49ers uniform. Thomas spent last season in Las Vegas where he served an important role as a reliable rotational piece.

Thomas projects most similarly to a player like John Franklin-Myers. At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, Thomas has a very similar build to Franklin-Myers and could serve as his primary backup. In a pinch, he could fill that same role as an edge/interior tweener. The 26-year-old Solomon Thomas graded out very poorly as a run defender last season finishing with a PFF run-defense grade of 28.0 that ranked dead last out of a whopping 136 qualified interior linemen.

Is Solomon Thomas in Line for a Larger Role?

“He’s awesome,” the Jets HC continued. “An example [of his work ethic] is [during] OTAs we have a bowling outing as a team, we come back and he goes right to the gym. He is constantly trying to better himself, trying to better those around him. He’s constantly just 100 miles an hour, everything he’s got, and doesn’t leave anything left in the tank.”

Saleh added that despite being “undersized” for the D-tackle position, Thomas “plays with so much explosiveness and power that he doesn’t get moved very often.”

Whoever ends up starting next to Quinnen Williams, expect there to be a heavy rotation on the defensive line. “You’re more fresh,” Thomas voiced about the way Saleh operates his snap count. “It’s honestly an advantage to be able to play with different styles of defensive linemen.”

Solomon Thomas will likely never be the player he was drafted to be, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still provide value to a Jets’ defensive line that is still rather thin. Jets Fans are hoping Robert Saleh can unlock some of the potential he once showed in San Francisco.